AP Top 25 Reality Check: Texas or Oklahoma? Washington or Oregon? How much to honor head-to-head?

0
193
Florida State running back Trey Benson (3) is lifted, in celebration of his touchdown, by offensive lineman Jazston Turnetine during the third quarter of an NCAA college football game against Louisiana on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022, in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Gary McCullough)

At this time of the season, those head-to-head results can become challenging for voters in The Associated Press college football poll.

There was no movement among the top five in the rankings Sunday, with Georgia strengthening its grip on No. 1.

Oklahoma slipped to No. 10 after losing to Kansas, which jumped into the rankings at No. 23.

That put Oklahoma behind Texas, which landed at No. 7. Just a few weeks ago, the Sooners knocked off the Longhorns in a Red River Rivalry thriller. That’s Texas’ only loss of the season.

Reasonable? Maybe. The Sooners didn’t play a Power Five team in the nonconference, though SMU has been one of the better teams out of the Group of Five. Texas won at Alabama out of conference.

Within the Big 12 so far, Texas routed at home the same Kansas team that OU lost to on the road.

Still, head-to-head?

Choosing between Washington at No. 5 and Oregon at No. 6 seems a clearer choice. The Huskies won the head-to-head and still have an unbeaten record. But again, the Ducks probably have a better overall resume with a nonconference road victory at Texas Tech and Saturday’s romp at now-No. 18 Utah.

While the Huskies have played close games against bottom-tier Pac-12 teams Arizona State and Stanford the past two weeks, the Ducks have crushed their lesser opponents.

Among Southeastern Conference teams, No. 11 Mississippi beat No. 13 LSU, which beat No. 14 Missouri. All good there.

What about this one? No. 15 Louisville (7-1) had a decisive victory against Notre Dame and has one fewer loss than the Fighting Irish (7-2), who are ranked 12th.

The Cardinals lost to a Pitt team the Irish just beat by 51 and Notre Dame beat No. 24 USC soundly. Then again, Louisville just shut out a Duke team that Notre Dame needed a late touchdown to beat.

It’s tough. The College Football Playoff selection committee gets to weigh in on these matters for the first time this season. The committee’s rankings debut Tuesday.

Reality Check believes the AP poll voters did OK with the head-to-head results this week, but had a few complaints.

No. 1 Georgia (8-0)

Next: vs. No. 14 Missouri, Saturday.

Reality check: With TE Brock Bowers out, WR Ladd McConkey, now healthy after missing the first four games, broke out against Florida with six catches for 135 yards and a score.

Ranked: Just right.

No. 2 Michigan (8-0)

Next: vs. Purdue, Saturday.

Reality check: Sign of success: Michigan’s defense has not faced a goal-to-go situation this season.

Ranked: Straight resume, you could bump the Wolverines down a spot.

No. 3 Ohio State (8-0)

Next: at Rutgers, Saturday.

Reality check: RB TreVeyon Henderson has missed most of the season with injuries, but he’s an important piece of the Buckeyes’ offense. He had 207 yards on 28 touches against Wisconsin.

Ranked: Good chance to be the CFP No. 1.

No. 4 Florida State (8-0)

Next: at Pittsburgh, Saturday.

Reality check: RB Trey Benson is the only player in the country with a run and a reception of at least 80 yards.

Ranked: Just right.

No. 5 Washington (8-0)

Next: at No. 24 Southern California, Saturday.

Reality check: Huskies issues on offense the past few weeks have been fairly simple to diagnose: six turnovers. Defensively, it has been a mish-mosh of ineffectiveness at all three levels.

Ranked: Honor the head-to-head, but do so with some skepticism.

No. 6 Oregon (7-1)

Next: vs. California, Saturday.

Reality check: QB Bo Nix has completed at least 72% of his passes in every game and has been above 84% three times.

Ranked: Just right.

No. 7 Texas (7-1)

Next: vs. No. 25 Kansas State, Saturday.

Reality check: QB Maalik Murphy’s first start was solid against an overmatched opponent, but 6.8 yards per attempt is going to be a difficult way to beat teams the Longhorns’ defense can’t smother.

Ranked: Could make a case for No. 5.

No. 8 Alabama (7-1)

Next: vs. No. 13 LSU, Saturday.

Reality check: Time to find out how far the Crimson Tide have come in their work-in-progress season.

Ranked: Just right.

No. 9 Penn State (7-1)

Next: at Maryland, Saturday.

Reality check: The running games has not averaged more than 4.2 yards per carry against Power Five opponents. Not being able to use the passing game to loosen up defenses impacts the running game.

Ranked: Too high.

No. 10 Oklahoma (7-1)

Next: at Oklahoma State, Saturday.

Reality check: Four straight games in which the Sooners have allowed at least 5.5 yards per play. And here comes the hottest running back in the country in Oklahoma State’s Ollie Gordon II, who joined Barry Sanders as the only Cowboy to have two straight 250-yard rushing games.

Ranked: Little low.

No. 11 Mississippi (7-1)

Next: vs. Texas A&M, Saturday.

Reality check: Rebels have held three straight SEC opponents below 300 yards of offense.

Ranked: Little low.

No. 12 Notre Dame (7-2)

Next: at Clemson, Saturday.

Reality check: Fighting Irish pass defense has been nasty. Not one opponent has reached 7 yards per attempt and safety Xavier Watts has six of Notre Dame’s 13 interceptions.

Ranked: Too high.

No. 13 LSU (6-2)

Next: at No. 8 Alabama, Saturday.

Reality check: Beating Alabama and Georgia is the road to becoming the first two-loss team to make the CFP. That’s the Tigers’ opportunity. Not sure they’re up for it, but it’s there.

Ranked: Little low.

No. 14 Missouri (7-1)

Next: at No. 1 Georgia, Saturday.

Reality check: Welcome to Mizzou’s potential November to remember. It could come crashing down quickly against the Bulldogs, but there is 10-win potential here.

Ranked: About right.

No. 15 Louisville (7-1)

Next: vs Virginia Tech, Saturday.

Reality check: Under-the-radar great job by the Cardinals’ defense, which has held four straight opponents under 300 yards and 5.0 yards per play. Edge rusher Ashton Gillotte leads the charge with 8 1/2 sacks.

Ranked: Probably should still be ahead of Notre Dame.

No. 16 Oregon State (6-2)

Next: at Colorado, Saturday.

Reality check: Even with the loss to Arizona, the Beavers still have a chance to reach the Pac-12 title game, but spoiler might be more realistic with Washington and Oregon still on the schedule.

Ranked: About right.

No. 17 Air Force (8-0)

Next: vs. Army, Saturday.

Reality check: Falcons lead the nation in time of possession at 34 1/2 minutes per game. Not surprising, but impressive nonetheless.

Ranked: Just right.

No. 18 Utah (6-2)

Next: vs. Arizona State, Saturday.

Reality check: Time to recalibrate expectations after a serious reality check against Oregon. A nine-win regular season would still be impressive.

Ranked: Too high.

No. 19 Tennessee (6-2)

Next: vs. UConn, Saturday.

Reality check: Vols have six 200-yard rushing games his season, just one fewer than they had in 13 games last season. More RB Jaylen Wright (6.99 yards per carry) and less committee might not be a bad idea.

Ranked: About right.

No. 20 UCLA (6-2)

Next: at Arizona, Saturday.

Reality check: Bruins pass rush made life miserable for Colorado QB Shedeur Sanders. UCLA is fourth in the country at 3.88 sacks per game.

Ranked: Little high.

No. 21 Tulane (7-1)

Next: at East Carolina, Saturday.

Reality check: Pass defense is the Green Wave’s potential undoing. They rank near the bottom of the America Athletic Conference and it makes it hard to protect leads.

Ranked: Too high.

No. 22 Kansas (6-2)

Next: at Iowa State, Saturday.

Reality check: Will we see QB Jalon Daniels play for Kansas again? As well as Jason Bean has played, Jayhawks could run the table with Daniels.

Ranked: Little high.

No. 23 James Madison (8-0)

Next: at Georgia State, Saturday.

Reality check: Dukes have won five one-possession games.

Ranked: Little high.

No. 24 Southern California (7-2)

Next: vs. No. 5 Washington, Saturday.

Reality check: Trojans have a strange relationship with the running game. They average 5.17 yards per carry, 19th best in the nation. They run it just under 30 times per game, 121st in the nation. It might be a way to keep the defense off the field.

Ranked: Too high.

No. 25 Kansas State (6-2)

Next: at No. 7 Texas, Saturday.

Reality check: Wildcats defense has allowed three points and 508 yards combined in its last two games.

Ranked: Too low.

___

Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at http://www.appodcasts.com. Get alerts on the latest AP Top 25 poll throughout the season. Sign up here.

___